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Union people, liberal backers?

December 08, 2010 - Dear Editor,

I was having a discussion with my students one day recently and the topic of unions came up. We began discussing the positives and the negatives of union membership and one student voiced their opinion. She said, "All you union people are all liberal backers."

When I begged to differ, she responded by saying that if that was not the case, why do all our union dues go toward Democratic candidates for public office? I did not have an answer for her since I have never seen a breakdown of how our local union's money is spent. I was curious to find out just what the money that gets taken out of my paycheck (and those of the 185 members of the Brandon Education Association) goes toward. So I did a little digging…

Our union hauls in about $23,000 per year after collecting dues from its members. After paying all the stipends that our union officials and representatives get throughout the year for attending a mountain of meetings, we're left with a little over $9,000. That begs the question, what do we do with the leftover cash? We donate quite a bit of it back into our local community. In fact, we donate almost 50 percent. We provide three $850 scholarships to deserving seniors from our district; we donate $250 to the ACS Relay for Life each year. We give to the senior lock-in, Creekfest, a senior center dinner, the Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School in order to provide students in need of financial assistance the opportunity to attend the BFIS camp, the Brandon High School yearbook, and other causes. The remaining $3,000 of the money goes toward sending representatives to a National Education Association conference. $600 goes toward a new teacher dinner and $300 goes toward a gathering where teachers get a rare chance to mingle. The rest is used on miscellaneous expenses.

I write this not to toot our own horn, just to explain a common misconception that is probably shared throughout the community. It is certainly shared by many of the students I teach each day. The members of the BEA are also members of this community. With that comes a responsibility and by giving our time, and, yes, also our money to these worthy causes, we hope to positively affect this community for many years to come.

Nathan Odinga

Brandon teacher

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